Miss Chaos (pygmalion) wrote in boston_t_party,
Miss Chaos

Published on Thursday, February 27, 2003 by the New
York Times
U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation
by John Brady Kiesling

The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's
letter of resignation to
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a
career diplomat who
has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to
Casablanca to

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing you to submit my resignation from the
Foreign Service of the
United States and from my position as Political
Counselor in U.S. Embassy
Athens, effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart.
The baggage of my
upbringing included a felt obligation to give
something back to my country.
Service as a U.S. diplomat was a dream job. I was paid
to understand foreign
languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats,
politicians, scholars and
journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests
and theirs
fundamentally coincided. My faith in my country and
its values was the most
powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.

It is inevitable that during twenty years with the
State Department I would
become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow
and selfish
bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our
policies. Human nature is
what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for
understanding human nature.
But until this Administration it had been possible to
believe that by
upholding the policies of my president I was also
upholding the interests of
the American people and the world. I believe it no

The policies we are now asked to advance are
incompatible not only with
American values but also with American interests. Our
fervent pursuit of war
with Iraq is driving us to squander the international
legitimacy that has
been America’s most potent weapon of both offense
and defense since the days
of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the
largest and most effective
web of international relationships the world has ever
known. Our current
course will bring instability and danger, not

The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics
and to bureaucratic
self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not
a uniquely American
problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic
distortion of intelligence,
such systematic manipulation of American opinion,
since the war in Vietnam.
The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before,
rallying around us a
vast international coalition to cooperate for the
first time in a systematic
way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than
take credit for those
successes and build on them, this Administration has
chosen to make
terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a
scattered and largely
defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread
terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily
linking the unrelated
problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and
perhaps the motive, is to
justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public
wealth to the military and
to weaken the safeguards that protect American
citizens from the heavy hand
of government. September 11 did not do as much damage
to the fabric of
American society as we seem determined to so to
ourselves. Is the Russia of
the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish,
superstitious empire
thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a
doomed status quo?

We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade
more of the world
that a war with Iraq is necessary. We have over the
past two years done too
much to assert to our world partners that narrow and
mercenary U.S.
interests override the cherished values of our
partners. Even where our aims
were not in question, our consistency is at issue. The
model of Afghanistan
is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we
plan to rebuild the
Middle East, and in whose image and interests. Have we
indeed become blind,
as Russia is blind in Chechnya, as Israel is blind in
the Occupied
Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming
military power is not the
answer to terrorism? After the shambles of post-war
Iraq joins the shambles
in Grozny and Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner
who forms ranks with
Micronesia to follow where we lead.

We have a coalition still, a good one. The loyalty of
many of our friends is
impressive, a tribute to American moral capital built
up over a century. But
our closest allies are persuaded less that war is
justified than that it
would be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift into
complete solipsism.
Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our President
condone the swaggering
and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies
this Administration is
fostering, including among its most senior officials.
Has “oderint dum
metuant� really become our motto?  dc note: Let
them hate, as long as they
(also) fear

I urge you to listen to America’s friends around the
world. Even here in
Greece, purported hotbed of European anti-Americanism,
we have more and
closer friends than the American newspaper reader can
possibly imagine. Even
when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks
know that the world is a
difficult and dangerous place, and they want a strong
international system,
with the U.S. and EU in close partnership. When our
friends are afraid of us
rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they
are afraid. Who will
tell them convincingly that the United States is as it
was, a beacon of
liberty, security, and justice for the planet?

Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your
character and ability. You
have preserved more international credibility for us
than our policy
deserves, and salvaged something positive from the
excesses of an
ideological and self-serving Administration. But your
loyalty to the
President goes too far. We are straining beyond its
limits an international
system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of
laws, treaties,
organizations, and shared values that sets limits on
our foes far more
effectively than it ever constrained America’s
ability to defend its

I am resigning because I have tried and failed to
reconcile my conscience
with my ability to represent the current U.S.
Administration. I have
confidence that our democratic process is ultimately
self-correcting, and
hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside
to shaping policies
that better serve the security and prosperity of the
American people and the
world we share
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